By: Hamail Tahir
Almost a month into the war in Gaza, there are no steps taken for a ceasefire. Peacekeeping body like the UN has failed miserably in acquiring peace between Israel and Hamas since the past 56 years of occupation of Palestinian people by Israelis. During a resolution presented in the UN, the US has vetoed a ceasefire which clearly undermines its staunch advocacy for democracy as innocent babies are being man slaughtered, pregnant women are killed and Israel has violated 45 resolutions with no accountability whatsoever (UNHCR). UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was slammed by Israel for stating that ‘It did not happen in a vacuum’ and demanded his resignation. The world is currently witnessing huge aspects of Anarchy with no accountability and only ruthlessness. However, Turkiye organized a power show on 28th October in support of Palestinian support which was addressed aggressively by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
October 7th is marked as the most significant and ominous day in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Hamas launched an attack on Israel which has resulted in massive casualties on each front. The aftermath of this attack has been nothing less than a gruesome retaliation by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The peace process that was once the pathway for the Middle East (especially after the reconciliation of the Iran-Saudi bitter rivalry) is now off the table leading back to regional instability. Arab states are fearful of the expansion of this conflict to the rest of the region.
On the contrary, NATO member Turkiye sees Hamas organization as ‘freedom fighters’ and does not label it as a terrorist group. It was the first country that recognize the State of Palestine in 1949. Last weekend, we witnessed a historical Pro-Palestinian protest that took place in Istanbul arranged by the government AK Party. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the protest with clarity on its stance of highlighting the brutality of Israeli (occupiers) bombardment on the Gaza Strip that has now claimed the lives of more than 8000 Palestinians. The rally consisted of high-profile leaders from other political parties chanting slogans and waving flags of Palestine and Turkey. ‘-I repeat that Hamas is not an organization of terrorists’ stated Erdogan, which was taken as an offense by Israel and NATO countries. This rally was also named ‘The Great Palestine Meeting’ in solidarity with Gaza.
Is Erdogan’s aggressive speech, seen as a political gain amidst the sensitivity of the matter? Can it be true that he cashed the sentiments and emotions of protestors for his political agendas? Israel had sent out word for the return of its diplomats from Ankara which may add fuel to the current decline in regional stability. Erdogan supports Muslim brotherhood as a primary objective and this provides an umbrella for Hamas liberators with open support from other Muslim countries such as Qatar and Iran. In the past, recently, Israel and Turkiye were off to a good start with diplomatic initiatives and state visits resulting in deals on oil corridors, energy, and gas supply. The bilateral relationship was moving towards progress after 13 years since Israel attacked the Gaza-bound aid ship ‘The Mavi Marmara’. However, amidst development, the cards are off the table now. Western countries are experiencing massive crowds that took to the streets in favor of Palestine and the ceasefire with thousands in the capital of the United Kingdom.
Turkiye and Israel share an oil corridor that stretches from Baku, Azerbaijan to Turkiye which further passes from the Mediterranean Sea towards an end in Israel. This pipeline, ‘Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan’ helps supply oil to Israel which makes up 40% of its total consumption annually. Certainly, the plight of Erdogan’s speeches is not reflected in his actions as oil continues to flow towards Ceyhan by passing from Turkiye. If Erdogan aims to block this pipeline as a strategic move, it will not be easy since it is a NATO member which is a complete Western camp. This action may temporarily suspend its membership. Erdogan plans on playing his cards efficiently in domestic and international spheres by implying a balanced approach between Eastern and Western camps. Gaza has no international representation on international forums and is considered as a weak entity, with no support from great powers.
Will the absolute support for Israel by Western great powers create a rift between Arabs and the West? Seemingly, Arabs pour verbal support for Palestinians to stay on their land whilst Israel is entertaining the physical presence of country high profile leaders like President Biden, Antony Blinken, Rishi Sunak, etc. I believe, Arab states are only focusing on their vested interests and consider diplomacy as the only tool to address this sensitive matter as of yet.
Turkish citizens call for an ‘economic hit’ on Israel by blocking the pipeline and boycotting their products. The air of anti-Israel lurks in the atmosphere of Ankara which is why Israel is taking security measures for the return of its diplomats. Turkiye aspires to improve its strategic importance post-war scenario by keeping in view the crisis, like all other states, even if it means exploiting the concerned narrative for political agendas in geopolitical matters.
The writer is a student of Strategic Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad. She can be reached at [email protected]